Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter County vote by mail already exceeds 2016 total

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By LILY REX

The number of Porter County voters who have cast their votes by mail for the 2020 primary election has already surpassed the total number of mail-in votes Porter County cast in the 2016 primary, according to Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey.

The Porter County Office of Elections & Registration has seen a major increase in requests for absentee ballots since Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order allowing all Indiana residents to vote by mail for the 2020 primary in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bailey reported at the Porter County Election Board meeting Friday that 7,554 voters had requested absentee ballots at the time of the meeting, and 5,234 had been sent out. 1,563 ballots had already been returned at the time of her report, which is more than the 245 absentee ballots the 2018 primary drew and nearing double the 1,563 absentee ballots that Porter County voters cast in the 2016 primary.

Bailey made a reminder that the last day to request an absentee ballot is May 21, and the ballot must be returned to the Elections & Registration Office by noon on Election Day, which has been moved to Tuesday, June 2 as part of Holcomb’s executive order on the upcoming election. Bailey encouraged residents to go online to check their voter registration status at indianavoters.org

Early Voting Dates Changed

Since the election was rescheduled, the Indiana Election Commission has adopted additional precautions for the June 2 primary, including curtailing in-person early voting to only one week from May 26 to June 1, Bailey said.

Bailey received Board approval Friday for her proposed new hours for early voting. All locations will remain the same, so starting May 26, voters can visit any of the five approved early voting sites in Porter County, which are: Chesterton Town Hall, 726 Broadway, Chesterton; Union Township Fire Station No.2, 267 N. 600 W, Valparaiso; Porter County Administration Center, 155 Indiana Avenue, suite 102A, Valparaiso; Hebron Community Center, 611 N. Main Street, Hebron; North County Annex, 3560 Willowcreek Road, Portage.

The five early voting sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for in-person voting from Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, May 29. They will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 30 and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Monday, June 1.

Porter County’s new mobile voter center, a Ford Starcraft 8+2 van outfitted for voting machines and manned by a bipartisan team of poll workers, will also visit several locations that are not served by a nearby early voting site. The schedule for the mobile voter center is as follows: Jamestown Apartments, 2810 Winchester Dr., Valparaiso, Tuesday, May 26 from 4 to 7 p.m.; Oak Tree Village, 254 Sandalwood St., Portage, Wednesday, May 27 from 4 to 7 p.m.; Kouts Library, 101 E. Daumer Rd., Kouts, Thursday, May 28 from 4 to 7 p.m.; Luke Oil Gas Station, 298 Melton Rd., Burns Harbor, Friday, May 29 from 4 to 7 p.m.; South Haven Library, 403 W 700 N, Valparaiso, Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Primary Update

Bailey reported she’s asked the County Party Chairmen to provide her with their final lists of poll workers by May 4, and she’s currently looking at rescheduling poll worker education classes or transitioning them online in case the Governor’s stay-at-home order is extended into May.

Bailey said she’s looking for safe solutions to fit everyone’s preferences. “We know some people won’t like to watch it online and would prefer in-person. We’re going to try to accommodate the best we can,” she said.

Meanwhile, election day polling places have been confirmed, the County Facilities Department is working on making plexiglass barriers to protect poll workers during in-person voting, and the Elections Office is waiting on personal protective equipment from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, Bailey said. “We want to encourage all the voters to be patient, whether they’re going to early vote or coming on Election Day. With the additional social distancing protocols, it’s going to take a little longer than what would normally happen,” Bailey added.

Upcoming deadlines for the primary include the deadline to register to vote: Monday, May 4. For candidates, pre-primary campaign finance reports are due Friday, May 15. The Election Board’s next meeting will be held Monday, May 18 at 3 p.m., likely via Zoom and streamed on the Porter County Government Facebook page. A public test of the election equipment will take place at the Porter County Administration Center at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 1. The public test will also be broadcast live via the Porter County Government Facebook page.

 

Posted 4/29/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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